Thursday, July 21, 2005

My "hood"

I’m probably going to get a phone call from my Dad about that whole drunk at 16 thing. Ahhhhh…what is he gonna do, ground me? He will probably find the same humor in it that I do after so many years anyway. But while we are telling secrets of old, I wanted to spill another one. It has to do with a conversation I had last night with my neighbor, about our neighborhood.

First I should tell you where I live; my friends call it “Murderville,” although it’s more commonly referred to as Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. But not just anywhere, it’s on the outer edge, closer to Bushwick really.

In short, my roommate and I are probably two of the ten white people in the neighborhood. And no I’m not exaggerating; I’m probably being generous. We moved in last November. The apartment is beautiful and cheap for the space and we were the first people to move into the building. But when you liver in NY in a nice apartment, you either pay through the ass, or live in the ghetto. Our case is the latter.

I would like to say that I have had no problems living in the hood. And for the MOST part, it would be true. I speak to people on the street all the time, I’m very friendly. I never ignore people when they are yelling at me, even if I don’t know that they are yelling at me. I make friends; help out the neighbors with stuff if they need it.

You’re waiting for the but.

BUT! I think it was February, I got mugged. I only lost $80 and a bit of pride, and a bit of skin on my arm. I’m fine. I was very upset after it happened, and that it happened in “MY neighborhood”, as I kept yelling frantically in the back seat of the police cruiser, while trying to identify the culprits at 5:30am in the dark and every guy was wearing the same diamond patterned, black Northface winter jacket and blue jeans.

But I digress.

So the conversation that I had with my neighbor brought it all flooding back. We were outside on the “stoop” which is common fare in the hood, and she points to a street light at the intersection, “you see that red light up there, it’s a camera, we livin in a RED zone.” Red Zone? I reply. She proceeds to tell me that the house down the street (now this I had a hunch about) is a haven for drug dealing. So the cops have it on surveillance. No surprises in the conversation yet. So I tell her, “well did you know that someone was shot in that building 4 months before we moved in here?” No. No she didn’t, but she also didn’t seem to care. So then I tell her about getting mugged, when it happened, the circumstances of being held at knife point by two guys, one at my back and one in front with a bandanna. I ALSO tell her that I was contacted a month or so after, by a detective that said they opened the case back up because it had happened too often in the same place by men fitting the same description. I told her they were young, probably 14-16, same age as her son.

And do you KNOW what she said!!

I don’t think you would even be able to guess…..

She says, “ahhhhhh, they were just kids…..having FUN.”

I’m not shitting you. I was secretly devastated inside that she would think so, but I made a small joke in regards to how I hope they had fun with my money or something rather, she chuckled, I became maybe a bit noticeably disturbed, so I excused myself.

So. It is amazing to me to have been witness to this extreme difference of opinion, and it was an eye opener to the diversity, although a bit grotesque in this case, of man, in general. We ARE, to some extent, products of our society, our culture, our upbringing, and our surroundings.

So that was it. Wanted to talk about it. Before I finish this blog. I am going to leave you with my “mugging pointers.” Cause at the very least, I learned a lot of what not to do, but more importantly, what I SHOULD have done.

1. Avoid getting mugged in the first place: don’t travel alone in unlit areas, between the hours of 2 – 6am, especially on the weekends…..spend the $ on a cab for door-to-door home delivery of your loved ones.

2. Give them what they want; whatever they ask you for, it is NOT worth your life or injury.

Those are the basics, but I think some of these next ones are learned only through experience. I hope you never have to use them, but I still hope you take note.

3. Look your assailant in THE EYES, stay calm.

4. Look for an IDENTIFYING FEATURE: a tattoo, what kind of shoes, clothes he/she is wearing. Something that you will remember and recognize.

5. If you give them what they want, they will most likely leave you unharmed…..but watch which DIRECTION they go.

6. CALL 911 immediately, as fast as you can, make note of the CROSS STREETS where it happened.


I didn’t do 1, 3, 4, or 5. I was unable to tell the police which way they fled, and was certainly unable to recall what they looked like, whether for that half hour we circled the neighborhood, or for when they called me in to look at photographs much later, I just didn’t have the foresight to think of those things. I keep telling myself that if I had, we might even have found them that night.


Bob Jingle said...

It was probably her son that did it.

Man, that sucks. I had no idea that mugging was condoned by anybody, especially adults with children. Do you think if you were black she would have had the same reaction? She probably meant that sticking it to the Man was just part of living in a bad neighborhoood. "Robbing white folks is just part of growing up." That's crazy talk and freaking disheartening. I'm as devastated as you.

Rain Delay said...

I am not surprised by her comments since my faith in the human race is generally depleted on a daily basis. The comment just makes me sad that this type of activity is seemingly condoned by the community at large. And of course, this will be the same woman who is shocked and outraged that murders happen in her neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Know what?

I 've been robbed at gunpoint. I stayed calm, i looked my asailant in the eye. I was livid; but I gave them my money.

when the police came, I gave a description. They actually picked the guy up (holy shit #1).

I went to a line-up and picked the assailant out (holy shit #2)

I then testified against said assailant. Since there were MULTIPLE victims of this guy, ther was more than one eye witness.

dude got off. AND- as it turned out, lived in my neighborhood (awesome...)

all that said- get out nof the situation and move on- the system doesn't care unless you die.